GCRS loses one of its own during high-angle rescue operation

Jackson County Emergency Management received a call yesterday at approx. 9 p.m from Transylvania County regarding a person who had fallen into the water at the base of Whitewater Falls. During an attempt to retrieve the victim’s body, a Glenville-Cashiers Rescue Squad member lost his life after falling from a rope.

GCRS and other responders worked diligently to locate the victim until storms came in around 1 a.m. Due to safety concerns resulting from the weather and difficult terrain, the search was temporarily suspended.

GCRS returned to the area at 9 a.m. this morning along with Jackson County Emergency Management, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, the Transylvania County Sheriff’s Office and Transylvania County Fire Department, a swift water rescue dive team from Henderson County, and other public safety departments from surrounding areas were on site to search for the subject. 

The initial victim has been identified as 24-year-old male Chandler Manuel from Rockwell, N.C. His family has been notified.

During the search for Manuel, a rugged remote high-line operations repelling team from the GCRS was searching for the victim.

One of the longtime-male members of the GCRS fell from a rope during search operations and did not survive the fall.

His body was retrieved from the bottom of the falls at 4:15 p.m. today by a National Guard N.C. Heart helicopter team.

Ten other GCRS search team members were below the falls, while eight others were on their way down to the falls. All 18 of these members survived safely.

The N.C. State Bureau of Investigations is investigating the incident, which is standard when a death occurs in the line of duty.

The search for Manuel has been suspended for the night and will resume first thing in the morning tomorrow.

Pictured at the top of the article is Whitewater Falls.

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